Exercising the Mind
The Divide Blog: November 1, 2014
By Jana Brown, screenwriter, The Divide
Before I became a screenwriter, I had been a journalist for many years, covering news and writing feature articles for magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. I wrote essays and satire when I felt the muse, but it had been a long time since I had really written “creatively” – that is, since I had invented a story in my own mind, something that only could have come from within – explored it, developed it, and took the time to expand it. But at the time Perry and I met, I had become increasingly open to the idea of returning to creative writing outside of my daily calling as a journalistic writer.
Perry is always telling me to go through the open doors in life. It turns out that meeting him was one of those open doors. The type of writing to which I had become accustomed certainly requires creativity and critical thinking, but not in the same way fiction demands. Shifting gears in my brain required hard (but fun) work. I like to compare the preparation for writing to physical exercise. If you stop going to the gym for a period of time, your body gets out of shape and your muscles forget that they are supposed to be strong. It’s the same way with writing – the more you do it, the stronger and easier the exercise of writing becomes. But it took me a while to get those creative juices flowing, to flex the muscles that control the creative spark in the brain. It was through my dozens of conversations with Perry that those muscles got back into shape. We talked constantly about creative ideas and just worked on them until they were in top form. I combined that mental fitness with another mantra of writing: “Write what you know.” Sam Kincaid, Perry’s character in The Divide, suffers from dementia. I have seen the struggle with memory loss firsthand in family members. So Sam’s fictional world certainly contains elements of my real world. It’s what gives the story truth and, I believe, it is that truth that will capture the hearts and minds of those who watch the film.